Mother's death pushes Ardo to finish university
Life for Ardo Spaulding changed when he was only 13 years old, after his mother was shot and killed.
Following the death of his mother, who was the sole breadwinner, Spaulding said that his 23-year-old brother took on the role of being a parent for his six siblings.
"My eldest brother completely took up the role of parenting for my younger siblings and sacrificed his dreams to nurture and care, not only for his kids, but also my younger siblings. I noticed the heavy burden on my brother's back and didn't want to add additional pressure, so I decided that I would pick up my mother's trade, which was vending in the streets of downtown Kingston on Saturday, as a way to gain an income for food and to send myself to school," he said.
Spaulding, 24, explained that the tragedy pushed him to strive for better because he did not want to disappoint his mother.
"I told my mom that I would not fall or become a part of the garrison statistics, but I would make something of my life and change the generational cycle of our family. Her death forced me to see the world in the reality that it actually is," he said.
It was not an easy journey for Spaulding, but according to him, failure was not an option.
Through his own merits, he was able to finish his years at Donald Quarrie High School, where he passed seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects. He went on to pursue his Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination subjects, doing both units in one year at the Pre-University School, University of the West Indies.
At the start of his college years, Spaulding was not sure how he would make it, but with help from a woman who he saw as a second mother, the Grace & Staff Community Development and the Social Investment Fund, he was able to pursue his studies.
An internship opportunity at the Liguanea Club in St Andrew opened even more doors for Spaulding, as it meant that he could further fund himself through university and cover all his fees.
Now, Spaulding is very happy to have completed his years at the University of the West Indies. He will be graduating from the institution this Saturday with a bachelor's of science in management studies, majoring in accounting.
"All that was achievable is because my mom taught me to believe in myself and to know that I have everything within me to conquer, despite my circumstances," he said.
However, he regrets that his mother is not alive to share in this moment.
"I learned to become a man my mother would be proud of and one that a country can salute. I know that she is not here, but I know she would be smiling at me right now and say: 'Well done, son, you did great'," he said.